Since opening a little more than a year ago, owners Jim and Brenda D’Amico have worked hard to establish the Black Bear as more than a place to go for a bite to eat. Their goal all along has been to create a sense of unity and fellowship.
“The idea behind this (the restaurant) has always been about community,” said Brenda. “We recognized that there weren’t a lot of places where people could go for their meetings or events, so we’ve tried hard to accommodate those who are interested.
And there have been plenty of takers. On any given week, the D’Amicos’ desk calendars (they have two to ensure accuracy) are filled with Sharpie-pen scribbles highlighting such events as corporate meetings for Kaiser Permanente, the Special Kids Foundation monthly get-togethers, Red Hat Ladies’ luncheons and a number of East County athletic booster club gatherings.
The City of Oakley staff meets at the Black Bear for breakfast on a regular basis, and the chief of police has been known to stop in on occasion. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and end-of-the-year school celebrators also make their way to the diner. The Oakley Chamber holds monthly meetings at Black Bear, and Oakley’s first Relay for Life chapter recently used the restaurant as a meeting spot and fundraising springboard. The D’Amicos were also corporate sponsors for the Relay event.
“This (Black Bear) is really the first community-type restaurant in Oakley,” said Relay Event Co-Chair Cathleen Knight, “and anything that has to do with the town and community – they’re there. The D’Amicos have touched a lot of lives in a very personal way. Are they good people? Absolutely.”
The D’Amicos are longtime Oakley residents, the parents of seven children between them (two currently at home) and five grandchildren. Despite their crowded calendar, they carve out time for baseball games, youth events and family celebrations. Giving back to a community that has given them so much is just icing on an already sweet cake.
“For us, it’s a lot of fun,” said Brenda. “It’s really nice meeting all the people. We’ve been here forever, and for us it’s nice to see friends and familiar faces coming in.”
But Brenda is quick to note that the philanthropic credit doesn’t go exclusively to them. Last year the Oakley location joined forces with the other Black Bear diners to raise more than $50,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to children suffering from terminal illnesses.
“The Black Diner as a corporation does a lot to support this kind of thing, and we are very grateful for that. It’s all very enjoyable; we’re happy to be here.”
For information on hosting a meeting or special event at the Black Bear, call 925-625-3555.